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MASTER AND PUPIL
especially no Russian woman, would ever be permitted to pro-
fane the masculine sanctity of his laboratory. One of Sonja's
Russian girl friends, desiring ardently to study chemistry in
Bunsen's laboratory, and having been thrown out herself, pre-
vailed upon Sonja to try her powers of persuasion on the crusty
chemist. Leaving her hat at home, Sonja interviewed Bunsen.
He was only too charmed to accept Sonja^s friend as a student
in his laboratory. After she left he woke up to what she had
done to him. 'And now that woman has made me eat my own
words,' he lamented to Weierstrass.
Sonja's evident earnestness on her first visit impressed
Weierstrass favourably and he wrote to Konigsberger inquiring
about her mathematical aptitudes. He asked also whether lthe
lady's personality offers the necessary guarantees.' On receiving
an enthusiastic reply, Weierstrass tried to get the university
senate to admit Sonja to his mathematical lectures. Being
brusquely refused he took care of her himself in his own time.
Every Sunday afternoon was devoted to teaching Sonja at his
house, and once a week Weierstrass returned her visit. After
the first few lessons Sonja lost her hat. The lessons began in the
autumn of 1870 and continued with slight interruptions due to
vacations or illnesses till the autumn of 1874. When for any
reason the friends were unable to meet they corresponded.
After Sonja's death in 1891 Weierstrass burnt all her letters to
him, together with much of his other correspondence and
probably more than one mathematical paper.
The correspondence between Weierstrass and his charming
young friend is warmly human, even when most of a letter is
given over to mathematics. Much of the correspondence was
undoubtedly of considerable scientific importance, but unfor-
tunately Sonja was a very untidy woman when it came to
papers, and most of what she left behind was fragmentary or
in hopeless confusion.
Weierstrass himself was no paragon in this respect. Without
keeping records he loaned his unpublished manuscripts right
and left to students who did not always return what they bor-
rowed. Some even brazenly rehashed parts of their teacher's
work, spoiled it, and published the results as their own. Al-
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